Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Friday, November 11, 2016

Uber Drivers In Kenya Go On Strike Over Fare Cut

Uber drivers in Kenya took to the streets on Tuesday, protesting the company’s steep fare cuts and policy of taking a high percentage of drivers’ earnings.

Kenyan Uber drivers went on strike August 2 after the company announced a 35 percent fare reduction last week. Drivers are also upset that Uber takes 25 percent of drivers’ earnings and asked for that rate to be lowered to 15 percent.

Federal approval for Site C dam ignites outrage

VANCOUVER — First Nations and environmental groups say they’re outraged after the federal government quietly issued permits last week allowing a controversial hydroelectric project in northeastern British Columbia to ramp up construction.

On Friday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans cleared the way for the province’s power utility to move forward with the Site C dam.

Number Of Homeless Single Adults In NYC Has Spiked 95% In A Decade

A record number of single adults are homeless in New York City.

On a given night, 14,222 single adults ― meaning they are not part of a family ― seek out homeless shelters in NYC, Giselle Routhier, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, told The Huffington Post via email. That’s a 95 percent increase from a decade ago. At the end of 2006, there were 7,282 homeless adults in New York City.

Donald Trump labels Clinton 'the devil' and suggests election will be rigged

In response to an emotional attack on him by the parents of 27-year-old army captain Humayun Khan, who died in a suicide bombing, Trump had claimed to have made sacrifices equal to their son.

A range of figures and organizations from across the political spectrum from John McCain to Barack Obama to the Veterans of Foreign Wars have criticized him for his comments.

If Putin Wants to Stoke Chaos and Discord in the West, Trump Is His Man

SPLIT, Croatia — When the news broke last week that it was all but certain that the Democratic National Committee’s email had been hacked by Russia, it was surprising to me that anyone was remotely skeptical that Vladimir Putin’s regime would do such a thing. Putin has been investing heavily in the military, propaganda and intelligence forces for years — and using them aggressively.

Donald Trump: ‘I’m Afraid The Election Is Going To Be Rigged’

Prepare for a meltdown from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump if he loses the election.

He told supporters on Monday that he fears the election could be rigged, an indication that even if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins, Trump might not accept it. He made the comments while talking about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who lost the Democratic nomination to Clinton and whose supporters Trump has openly courted.

Ultra-Right Annotated Edition of Pocket Constitution Tops Amazon Charts After Khizr Khan’s DNC Speech

Following Gold Star father Khizr Khan’s powerful speech at the Democratic convention last week, sales of pocket Constitutions have skyrocketed. But the edition topping Amazon’s charts – right up there with the new Harry Potter book — comes with annotations and right-wing commentary from Glenn Beck’s favorite conspiracy theorist.

“Let me ask you: have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan said last week in Philadelphia, pulling his edition out of his pocket. “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.”

How Dangerous Is It To Be A Cop? Here’s What The Data Says

After a spate of attacks on police officers this month, many conservative pundits and politicians have claimed that there is a “war on cops” being promoted by the Black Lives Matter movement, which calls for an end to racist policing. However, data on police deaths does not support this narrative.

Pivoting To Hillary, From The Left

Months ago, I wrote here about how Bernie Sanders reflected a sea change in American religiosity. At the time, if it was not explicit, I was a supporter of Sanders and was happy to see him come to the current political debate from the Left. And more importantly, he was providing an alternative to many issues that, for me, placed Hillary Rodham Clinton too closely aligned with neo-conservative, imperialist and interventionist positions I normally associate with the Right.

How About Four New Scalias On The Supreme Court

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump upped the ante again on arguably the single biggest campaign issue that has Trump and Clinton backers the most anxious about. That is, who gets to appoint someone to the Supreme Court during the next four to eight years. There could be anywhere from two to four vacancies in that time span. Trump upped the ante in three ways. The first was when he again tossed out the name of the late Antonin Scalia during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

Donald Trump Telling NBC’s Katy Tur to ‘Be Quiet’ Reveals Exactly What Kind of President He’d Be

When was the last time a man told you to be quiet? Bet you can’t remember. One person who could answer this question with incredible accuracy is NBC reporter Katy Tur, who had stomach-dropping experience of being told to “be quiet” by Donald Trump. Because of course he thinks that’s fine.

Donald Trump and RNC attack presidential debate schedule

In a tweet on Friday night, Trump incorrectly said that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are "trying to rig the debates."

In fact, the fall debate schedule was determined almost a year ago by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, a private group made up of both Republicans and Democrats.

Apple's Profit Reporting A ‘Fraud,' Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz Says

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has called Apple’s profits a “fraud,” blaming weak U.S. laws for allowing the company to shift its tax burden to low-tax Ireland.

“Here we have the largest corporation in capitalization not only in America, but in the world, bigger than GM was at its peak, and claiming that most of its profits originate from about a few hundred people working in Ireland — that’s a fraud,” Stiglitz, a former head of the World Bank and an advisor to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, told Bloomberg TV this week.

Federal Judge Rips Uber Apart Over Dirt-Digging Investigation

In December of last year, Yale environmental researcher Spencer Meyer filed suit against Uber, alleging price fixing by Uber’s drivers and founder in violation of federal antitrust law. Hardly the first person to accuse Uber of corporate malfeasance, Meyer nonetheless became the target of private investigators, working for a security company hired by Uber, who attempted to dig up derogatory information — an act the district judge hearing the case, Jed Rakoff, has now, in a 31-page order, called “blatantly fraudulent and arguably criminal.”

New Documentary Pierces the Psychology of Modern Suicide Bombers

In a scene from Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal’s new documentary Dugma: The Button, Abu Qaswara, a would-be suicide bomber, describes the sense of exhilaration he felt during an aborted suicide attack against a Syrian army checkpoint. “These were the happiest [moments] I’ve had in 32 years. If anyone had felt exactly what I felt at that moment, Muslims would want to go through the same feeling and non-Muslims would convert just to experience it,” he enthuses to the camera, visibly elated by his attempted self-immolation.

Koch donors gather for weekend retreat

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Billionaire industrialist and conservative benefactor Charles Koch's expansive political network will not help Donald Trump win the presidency.

That's the message from one of the Koch network's chief lieutenants as hundreds of the nation's most powerful Republican donors gathered for a weekend retreat on Saturday. With Election Day just three months away, Koch lamented the state of the 2016 contest during a welcome reception inside a luxury hotel at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

Extremism thrives because of cowardly collaborators

Anglo-Saxon democracies, which were never invaded in the 20th century, have produced a rich series of alternative histories of resistance. When the Nazis win the Second World War, audiences can flatter themselves that they would never have collaborated with Robert Harris’s Fatherland or Amazon’s Man in the High Castle.

No one is more prone to imagining how well they would have behaved in conflicts that they never experienced than American conservatives. The cult of Churchill in the US would embarrass even his most devoted British admirers. From George W Bush, who placed a Jacob Epstein bust of Churchill in the Oval Office in 2001, via the CEOs who put Churchill their most admired leader, ahead of Steve Jobs, to today’s Republican leaders in Congress, the mainstream right is unanimous and unctuous in its admiration.

Theresa May’s Home Office Policies And Rhetoric ‘Contributed To Surge In Hate Crime’

The policies and rhetoric during Theresa May’s time at the Home Office contributed to a post-Brexit surge in hate crime, a leading civil rights campaigner has said.

As the new prime minister’s government announces an action plan to combat the spike since the EU Referendum, the new director of Liberty, Martha Spurrier, said “you reap what you sow” in reaction to the fact more than 6,000 hate crimes have been reported since mid June.

Gig economy workers: Independent contractors or indentured servants?

What if millions of American workers were being denied health insurance, job security and the most basic legal protections, from overtime pay to workers compensation to the right to join a union? What if tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer revenues — money desperately needed to address everything from crumbling roads to education to health care — were never making it to local, state and federal treasuries? What if thousands of companies were violating the law with impunity?

For the U.S., There’s No Business Like the Arms Business

When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it.  Not so with the global arms trade.  It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

How Much Do Shady Financial Practices Cost You, Exactly?

The United States' financial system is broken for all but a few at the top -- that much is plain. The rest sense that we are stuck on the minus end of some great financial formula, but given the complexity and size of Big Finance, it's hard to pin down exactly why it happens and how it all adds up.

Enter economist Gerald Epstein of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has dived in and crunched the numbers, and the results are eye-popping. Epstein and his colleague Juan Antonio Montecino look at exactly how families, taxpayers and businesses get ripped off by dubious financial activities and tally up the costs in a new paper for the Roosevelt Institute, "Overcharged: The High Cost of Finance." (The Institute for New Economic Thinking has also supported several papers by Epstein).

What To Know About The Secretive Group Turkey Blames For Coup Attempt

Hours after an attempted coup in Turkey on June 15, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his officials were already clear who was to blame: Fethullah Gulen.

The elderly Muslim cleric has lived in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, for nearly two decades. He’s the leader of a religious movement known as Hizmet, which espouses education, community service and interfaith dialogue. The movement is associated with a vast network of businesses, schools and other institutions around the globe.

It’s well past time to stop laughing: Trump’s Russian hacking comments make clear that he poses an existential threat to our democracy

Imagine for a moment if Hillary Clinton told reporters that she hopes the Russian government hacked Donald Trump’s internal network, acquiring copies of his tax returns and releasing them to the public specifically to swing the presidential election in her favor. Or worse, imagine if Hillary Clinton hoped if not greenlighted any government to have conducted cyber-espionage against any of her political enemies.